These brain-dead pundits all declared the Tea Party dead

Every few weeks over the last five years, some politician or pundit has decided to boldly declare the death of the Tea Party. A few, like the Washington Post‘s E.J. Dionne and Senator Harry Reid, have done it multiple times. Even though they have been proven wrong time and again, there seems no shortage of political commentators willing to take the plunge.

Now that Tea Party-backed David Brat has trounced Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th congressional district, it is once again time to take stock of all those folks who flubbed it miserably. Perhaps it’s time for them to find a different line of work.

The biggest loser of this season’s Tea Party Dead Pool, is? (drum roll) Envelope, please… (pause for dramatic effect) Timothy Egan in the New York Times for his June 5 column, “Tea Party Dead-Enders”!

Just five days before the Tea Party was to claim its biggest scalp of the year thus far, Egan figured this was a good time to pronounce that it was the end of the road for the five-year-old movement.

His column, dripping with snark and smarmy condescension, focuses on the extreme views of some Tea Party candidates and declares the whole thing pretty much over. As an example of big city liberal elitism that can’t see beyond its own prejudice, Egan’s piece would be tough to top. First place.

Second place goes to Ramesh Ponnuru in the Chicago Tribune for his May 23 op-ed, “Is the tea party dead?” Here the senior editor of National Review—voice of the Republican establishment—and resident fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, doesn’t claim that the party has died.

He actually takes aim at the pundits who claim it is dead. And… ah-ha, there’s a twist! It couldn’t be dead, Ponnuru explains. Why? “It’s because the movement the pundits imagined—a bitter enemy of the existing, fairly conservative Republican Party—was never truly alive.”

Oh, I get it; it was all a dream. Wait, that doesn’t explain the funereal look on all those Republican faces the day after Cantor’s defeat.

Third spot goes to NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. On the May 20th edition of the network’s Nightly News Todd sagely explained how “established Republicans have taken the Tea Party head on” and that is why the party has “faded.”

He doesn’t actually say that the party has died, so perhaps he has noticed all the previous Dead Pool losers and is hedging. Still, Todd’s executive position and his pronouncement, so close to Cantor’s defeat, really make this stand out in the field.

In runner up spots, Wishful Thinking ribbons go to: Josh Kraushaar in the National Journal for “The Tea Party’s Over” (Mar. 18); Egberto Willies in Daily Kos: “Sarah Palin & Tea Party—Dead Movement Walking—The Tea Party Is Dead” (Jan. 28); Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View, “How the Tea Party Will Die” (Oct. 17, ’13); the journal Democracy for its “symposium” in the winter issue (#31) on whether the Tea Party is dead; with an additional prize going to Molly Ball for her piece “Weak Tea” in Democracy‘s follow-up issue (Spring 2014, issue #32).

Special mention should go to those who refuted the notion of the Tea Party’s demise while at the same time proclaiming it… using identical headlines. Here we have Kevin Drum in Mother Jones, “The Tea Party Is Dead. Long Live the Tea Party” (Feb. 12); Chris Weigant in the Huffington Post, “The Tea Party Is Dead! Long Live the Tea Party!” (May 7); and Paul Waldman in the Washington Post, “The Tea Party is dead. Long live the Tea Party” (May 14). Extra style points to the Weigant for the use of exclamation marks.

Note: The Atlantic has a good round-up of Dead Pool losers prior to Jan. 2013; “Reports of the Tea Party’s Death Have Been Endlessly Exaggerated.” Indeed they have.


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